ennis Bergkamp was born in Amsterdam on the 10th of May 1969. His family is known to be keen Manchester United fans and Dennis was named after United's legendary player Denis Law.
As a child Dennis was a supporter of the north-London club Tottenham Hotspur.
At the age of 12 the blond supertalented striker joined Amsterdam giants Ajax. He advanced through the famous Ajax-system without actually being looked upon as a coming super, supernova. He signed a proffesional contract with the club, which is a proof of quality itself, but he struggeled to gain a regular place in the club's best junior team.
At the age of 17, on the 14th of December 1986, he made his first apperance for the Ajax seniors. It came as a surprice to many, but Johan Cruyff had surely spotted the boy's extraordinary qualities. Bergkamp and Cruyff are still good friends. Dennis didn't waste the chance Cruyff gave him, and he suddenly gained a reputation as one of Europe's most promising prospects.
Bergkamp's carreer didn't actually take off immediately, but Cruyff kept confidence in his boy. The substitute appearance in the European Cup Winner's Cup's final 1987 gave DB important experience. Ajax beat Lokomotiv Leipzig 1-0, and Dennis received his first major trophy. He also contributed to Ajax's cup victory the same year.
The Netherlands won the European Championship in 1988, and the team was very,very strong and Dennis were still young. But his impressive impact in the Ajax side simply couldn't be overlooked by the KNVB. He was included in the squad for the World Cup in Italy 1990, but having to compete with the legandary Marco van Basten, Dennis didn't play any matches. Obviously he was dissappointed, but only limited, because he knew that without any caps it was unlikely to suddenly be given the chance in a World Cup. But it certainly is a fine experience for a youngster only to be squadmember in such a good team in such a big tournament.
He received the Dutch Player of the year for his performances in the 1991/92 season. It was a great season for Bergkamp. He played a keyrole when Ajax won the UEFA-cup this season. In the years 1991, 92 and 93 Bergkamp also won the golden boot award having scored an awful lot of goals.
The European Championship in 1992 was Bergkamp's first large competition. Dennis and his team-mates, including Marco van Basten, Ronald Koeman and Frank Rikjaard were among the favourites to win the tournament. Dennis defintely impressed, and I suppose you can say it was his real break-through on the highest international level. The Dutchmen played some terrific football, especially against the German side. However, they lost the important game against Denmark and were knocked out.
During the 1993/94-season Dennis revealed that he was prepared to listen to offers from foreign clubs. It came as a big surprice when he decided to choose Inter Milan. Larger clubs like Barcelona, AC Milan and Juventus were all rejected. The transferdeal included Bergkamp's mate Wim Jonk and cost Inter a fee of £12'000'000
Arsenal swooped for
Dennis the Menace after a relatively unsuccessful year at
Inter. The new manager at Arsenal, Bruce Rioch, had to
pay £7.5M for his services, a club record by far. 'There
had been mounting speculation in Italy that I would move
to England in the summer, but in the end the move to
Arsenal came about fairly quickly. I received a call from
my agent in Holland and was informated that Arsenal were
preparing to make a bid for me. Obviously it rested in
the hands of Inter, but once the club had agreed to sell,
I didn't think twice about the move to England.' he said
after signing the deal.
Last Updated: Friday March 07, 1997 08:07:30 -0500
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